ROUND ROCK, Texas (CBS Houston) — Customer support representatives at technology purveyor Dell were reportedly caught using fabricated contests to try luring callers into purchasing warranties.

Red flags were raised when Dell, whose headquarters are located in Round Rock, Texas, reportedly tried to sell its premium warranties in an aggressive manner at an annual Tech Support Showdown hosted by the website LAPTOP.

One representative offered the LAPTOP editor-in-chief a four-year warranty – for $317 – after he merely asked how to improve battery life.

The experience led the editor, Mark Spoonauer, to conduct an experiment by calling Dell’s tech support hotline to see if those employees were as passionate about selling warranty plans.

The first two times, Spoonauer was told that he needed to purchase warranties before they were able to assist him at all.

The third time, however, representatives allegedly tried a different route.

“We placed our third call to Dell … and, after holding for five minutes, asked [the representative] how we could improve our laptop’s battery life,” Spoonauer wrote. “He gave us a hurried explanation about never letting the battery’s charge go below 40 or 50 percent and then, in a surprised tone, told us that we had won a daily drawing to purchase a four-year extended hardware warranty for our laptop for $317.”

After insisting he was not interested in a warranty, Spoonauer was pressured further by the representative to take the offer.

During each conversation, the question about battery life was either ignored, or answered quickly, without further explanation or detail, before the warranty sales pitches began.

Spoonauer confronted Dell with their findings, to which the company responded by refuting the existence of warranty contests.

“Daily drawings are not a regular practice nor encouraged tactic in technical support and we have used your feedback to reinforce this with our teams,” Dell reps were quoted by LAPTOP as saying. “Their only priority is to resolve our customers’ issues.”

Dell additionally apologized for the issues, and reportedly referred to the feedback as “important lessons to learn from.”


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